Monthly Archives: October 2011

A free preview from James Maxey’s new Greatshadow…

Enjoy the first ever preview of Greatshadow by James Maxey here:

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Paranormally Speaking

By Tina R. McSwain

To Treat or Not To Treat

When did Halloween become so controversial?  From the age of when its time to quit trick-or-treating, to whether or not a costume is required to receive candy, and even if you should celebrate the “holiday” at all.  I recently saw a post that “Halloween is of the Devil, and good Christians should be in church and not running around in costumes.”  It is a fact that many churches now have fall festivals as alternatives.  And what of the dangers of years past, when razor blades, pins and needles were purported to have been hidden in apples?  Does anyone even give apples anymore as treats??  Probably not for fear of getting tricked.

But, what about other cultures?  They seem to relish this time of year.  Take The Day of the Dead for example.  (El Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday that focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, often setting a place for them at the dinner table.  It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it has attained almost the status of a National Holiday. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2). Traditions connected with El Dia do los Muertos celebrations include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts.

(All Saints’ Day which is also called All Hallows, Hallowmas or All Saints is celebrated on November 1st in honor of all the Saints, known and unknown)

(All Souls’ Day is a day of commemoration of the faithful that have departed this life and is celebrated on November 2nd)

In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals, parades, and at the end of the day, people go to cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, as well as in many Asian and African cultures.

Samhain means “End of Summer”, and is generally celebrated on October 31st, but some traditions prefer November 1st. It is celebrated by Celts, Pagans and Wiccans and is a magical time when the laws of time and space are temporarily suspended, and the Thin Veil between the worlds is lifted. Communicating with ancestors and departed loved ones is easy at this time of year.  It originates from the “Feast of the Dead” which was celebrated in Celtic countries by leaving food offerings on altars and doorsteps for the “wandering dead”. (See a pattern here given all of the above).

So, in closing, Happy Halloween, Feliz El Dia de los Muertos, Happy All Saints’ Day, Happy All Souls’ Day, Feliz El Dia de Finados, and Happy Samhain to all!!

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Days of the Dead Online Event

Welcome to my annual Days of the Dead Online Event.  This year it’s more exciting than ever, with new book giveaways, free chapter and short story excerpts, guest author downloadable goodies, a new book video, new audio readings and all-new interviews with five of the baddest bad-ass vayash moru (vampires) in the Winter Kingdoms!

For any fan of the supernatural, this week is a time of mystery.  Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween, Dia De Los Muertos all in one week—you just know something big is going to happen.

What’s so special?  I’m looking forward to the launch of The Dread, book Two in the Fallen Kings Cycle.  It’s available for pre-order, but you can read four different excerpts for free on my Days of the Dead partner sites.

I’ve also got two new short stories coming out in anthologies in 2012—Spells and Swashbucklers with DragonMoon Press and a UK anthology that I can’t name yet.  But you’re going to get never-before-seen sneak peeks at these two stories plus two other short stories of mine that I’ve never offered excerpts of before.

There’s also a brand new book video for The Sworn and The Dread and it’s premiering during this tour, too.

Several of my author friends have also provided excerpts as Trick-or-Treat goodfies.  You’ll find download links sprinkled throughout the partner sites.

Four different partners are doing drawings for signed copies of The Sworn (and other prize packages), so make sure you enter—you can’t win if you don’t play!

The Broad Pod from Broad Universe has an all-new audio reading from one of my favorite vayash moru scenes in the whole series, so please listen in.

What are you waiting for?  You can get in on all the Days of the Dead fun on a treasure hunt/Trick-or-Treat just by visiting these sites.  And please, “like” my TheWinterKingdoms page on Facebook when you visit to get the goodies!

Here’s where the action is:

  • Orbit Books (—book giveaway plus blog post and an interview with Lord Uri of the Blood Council and a chapter excerpt from The Dread, along with my new book video for The Sworn and The Dread
  • Solaris Books (—book giveaway plus an interview with Lord Gabriel of the Blood Council
  • DoubleDragon Books (—a Q&A with me about power and immortality
  •—a book giveaway plus interview with Kolin, helper to Lady Riqua of the Blood Council
  •—fantastic music to listen to while reading my books (I listen to it while I write)—they’ll be doing another giveaway contest for The Sworn
  • Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist—a fourth excerpt from The Dread plus a book giveaway contest
  • The BroadPod (—A reading of one of my favorite vampire scenes in the Chronicles of the Necromancer series.
  •—An interview with Lady Astasia of the Blood Council plus the Days of the Dead overview and a special Q&A with me about why I love the Blood Council, and a different chapter excerpt from The Dread, and sample chapters from books by several of my author friends—and the all-new book video!
  • TheWinterKingdoms on Facebook (please “like” my page!) a downloadable excerpt for “Steer a Pale Course” and “Among the Shoals Forever”—two of my never-before-excerpted short stories, plus excerpts from books by some of my author friends.
  •—an interview with Laisren, vayash moru armsmaster at Dark Haven, plus a third excerpt from The Dread, download links for excerpts from several of my author friends and an excerpt to “Vanities”—another never-before-excerpted short story of mine with plenty of vampires! And a sneak peek excerpt from my brand-new Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (coming in 2013).
  •—pre-order The Dread and get free downloadable excerpts from more than a dozen of my author friends!
  •—Links to two more of my never-before-excerpted short stories,  “Among the Shoals Forever” and “The Low Road”, plus links to downloads from some more of my awesome author friends!
  • —Yet a different excerpt from The Dread plus links to more author friend downloads!

Here’s a link to “Vanities”—a never-before-excerpted short story available in The Bitten Word anthology from NewCon Press (UK):–z/An_Excerpt_from_Vanities_by_Ga.html

And here’s a sneak peek from my brand new series, launching in 2013 from Orbit Books, The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga:

The Magic of Fabulous by Michele Lang:

Want to see the brand new book video for The Sworn and The Dread?  It’s right here (and please share it with your friends)!

Here it is—the brand new book trailer for my newest books—The Sworn and The Dread (Books One and Two in the Fallen Kings Cycle).  See it here first!

As plague and famine scourge the winter kingdoms, a vast invasion force is mustering from beyond the northern seas. And at its heart, a dark spirit mage wields the blood magic of ancient, vanquished gods.

Summoner-King Martris Drayke must attempt to meet this great threat, gathering an army from a country ravaged by civil war. Neighboring lands reel toward anarchy while plague decimates their leaders. Drayke must seek new allies from among the living – and the dead –- as an untested generation of rulers face their first battle.

Then someone disturbs the legendary Dread as they rest in a millennia-long slumber

beneath sacred barrows. Their warrior guardians, the Sworn, know the Dread could be pivotal as a force for great good or evil. But if it’s the latter, could even the Summoner-King’s sorcery prevail?




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Broad Pod: October’s Vampires

Hello, Everyone!

Available for your enjoyment is the latest Broad Pod: October’s Vampires!

Join hostess, Trish Wooldridge of A Novel Friend Writing
& Editing, as she and the Broads celebrate what many genre writers–not
even just horror!–feel is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

The episode opens with E.F. Watkins sharing her story of a
violent act that is not quite what it
seems.  Then, Rae Lori’s excerpt involves
a power struggle for the role of Regent in a nightwalker clan.  Gail Z. Martin brings us into an epic battle
with the undead.  Finally, Jaleta Clegg
finishes the episode with musings on vampire survival related to problematic
food supply.

The Broad Pod is brought to you by Broad Universe, an
international non-profit dedicated to promoting, celebrating, and honoring women
writers of science fiction, fantasy, horror–and everything in between.  To find out more about Broad Universe, or how
to join the ranks of Broads, visit

For now, please enjoy our display of why the claims of
vampire demise… have been greatly exaggerated.

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Interview with Laisren

In honor of my Days of the Dead blog tour, I’d like to introduce you to one of my vayash moru (vampire) characters from the Chronicles of the Necromancer and Fallen Kings series.  Vayash moru play an important part in my books, aiding–and sometimes opposing–Tris Drayke and Jonmarc Vahanian. You can read the interviews with four more of my vayash moru characters at my partner sites!

Here, I’d like to introduce you to Laisren, a vayash moru who, while less ancient than Lord Gabriel and the members of the Blood Council, has proven his formidable fighting skills.  He serves as Dark Haven’s armsmaster, and has trained Jonmarc Vahanian to fight against immortals.

Q:  What has immortality taught you?

A: Most mortals stumble aimlessly through their short lives without purpose or passion, not realizing that their time is brief.

Q:  In the current conflict against the Temnottan invaders, you chose to go to war.  Why risk yourself on account of mortals?

A:  War was my calling when I was mortal.  Immortality has improved my skills.  I serve best with a sword in my hand, and in this conflict, mortals and immortals are united against a common foe.

Q:  You trained Jonmarc Vahanian to fight against vayash moru.  Does that make you a traitor to your kind?

A:  Hardly.  Jonmarc is the chosen champion of Istra, the Dark Lady, patron Aspect of the vayash moru.  He has exceptional skills as a mortal warrior.  With my training, Jonmarc can now hold his own against vayash moru, which he has needed to do to protect Dark Haven and the Winter Kingdoms from rogue immortals.

Q:  What is your biggest disappointment about immortality?

A:  That the few mortals who burn brightly with passion and purpose cast their light for such a short time.

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A Ghostly Story

Come one, come all and gather round the campfire for a story that will scare the socks right off you. Since it’s so close to Halloween, I thought I would share a ghost story that I had experienced.

It’s been a while since I’ve had major ghostly activity, but that isn’t a bad thing for me. I used to hunt ghosts back in the day, but that was a long time ago when I was a teenager. Yeah…the stupid things we do when we’re kids.

Anyway, me and some friends of mine would go into a local cemetery at night and take our cameras and see what we could capture on film. We never got anything really maybe an orb or two, a couple of strange lights, now and again, but nothing concrete to make us go woohoo. It was more the personal experiences that we came away with.

A group of three or four of us usually went together. One night we were heading toward the back of my graveyard, where we normally didn’t venture, because it was always creepier and the oldest part. We were quite familiar with the newer section and the vibes I got weren’t the best. But my friends wanted to explore so we walked back there, away from the watchful eyes of the Jesus statue that seemed to follow us no matter where we were. The deeper we got into the older part of the cemetery the creepier the atmosphere grew. Something didn’t want us there.

Still we went further toward the back until pavement had designated to mere gravel. A weight descended on the group and we kinda stopped and looked at one another. From the corner of the bone yard, something came out of the shadows and was barrelling at us. We weren’t sticking around to find out what it was. So we hightailed it back to my car and piled into it. Whatever was after us, hit the car.

I turned the car on and we left, but the darkness that followed us was thicker than anything. Needless to say it was one of the scarier moments of my ghostly experiences. It also stopped me from going ghost hunting along with a couple other things.

Any one have any stories you want to share?

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A Cemetery Tour

by Casey Daniels

I don’t remember when I first realized how much I love cemeteries. It may have been back when I was a kid and walked to my piano lessons every week. There was no piano teacher in my immediate neighborhood and I walked about thirty minutes to get to my lessons. At the time (and no, I won’t say when it was!), no one worried about a kid out on city streets alone.

My route took me by a city cemetery, and I remember looking through the iron fencing around it and thinking how peaceful the place seemed. I never ventured inside, not because I was frightened, but because I didn’t know anyone who was buried there.

I did visit other cemeteries, of course. One of my grandmothers dragged (and I use that word appropriately) us with her once in a while to clean up the graves of long-gone ancestors. I remember walking to that cemetery, too, and packing a lunch to take along. Food was probably the one way she knew she could keep us quiet and bribe us to help her work!

What I do remember very clearly is when this vague interest in burial grounds blossomed into a full-blown obsession. It will be 11 years this coming Halloween. It was a Sunday, and somehow, I found out that a local trolley company was doing a day-long tour called “Stones and Bones.”

Yup, a cemetery tour.

I was fascinated by the history of the cemeteries we visited, and grateful to finally have a chance to stop in at some city cemeteries that are not safe to travel in alone. I loved hearing about the art and the architecture, about the symbolism found in headstone carvings and the hints of family history that can be found in the names and dates etched for all eternity into the stone.

In the last 11 years, I’ve made good use of my cemetery interest. My Pepper Martin mysteries involve a cemetery tour guide and over the years, I’ve gotten to know a couple of the local foundations that work to preserve local cemeteries. Recently, it all came full circle. You see a couple weeks ago, I hosted a tour in a historic cemetery.

It was called Killer Cleveland and on the tour, I took groups of visitors around to “meet” the victims and perpetrators of some local (and very old) homicides. It was a gray and gloomy afternoon (how appropriate) but our intrepid tourists showed up anyway and hiked along with me through the battered headstones. At some of the graves, I told the stories of the macabre murders. At others, re-enactors took over and played the roles of victims–and murderers.

It was a great day, and I know we helped spark an interest in local history. I also know that somehow, the Universe has been pushing me all these years, nudging me to this place where I am more involved in something I find fascinating.

As for that cemetery I used to pass as a child, it’s still there and I’ve visited a time or two. These days, I actually go inside!

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Things that Go Bump in the Night

by Gail Z. Martin

Ok, so I write about ghosts, vampires, necromancers, magic and monsters.  Ever wonder where that came from?

Big surprise: I’ve loved spooky supernatural stuff since I was a kid.  One of my earliest favorites was a story written for elementary-aged readers in  the Jack and Jill magazine called “The Ghost in the Glen.”  I made my mom read it to me until the cover fell off the magazine.  I discovered Fate Magazine when I visited my grandparents.  Fate is full of first-person accounts of supernatural occurrences plus stories about the occult, the spooky, and the just plain strange.  I used to sneak away with a pile of Fate Magazines and read them for hours.

By now, I think everyone knows I loved the original Dark Shadows when I was in preschool, and that alone probably did a lot to determine my present life course.  Other early favorites were Twilight Zone, the old Alfred Hitchcock show (as well as the spooky Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series of books), ScoobyDoo, Night Gallery, Tales from the Crypt and any old monster movies I could pick up on the local UHF channel (these were the days before cable).

Another early favorite was a book called Jane-Emily about a girl whose spirit is trapped inside a silver garden gazing globe.  I have never been able to look at a garden globe without thinking of that book! I decided Shakespeare was interesting when I found out Macbeth and Hamlet had ghosts in them.  I also read as many first-person accounts of haunting and ghosts as I could get my hands on, and still enjoy those kinds of books.  I think Blackwood Farms by Anne Rice is a perfect ghost story—vampires AND ghosts, plus some witches and a haunted house!

So there you have it.  If you don’t want your kid to grow up to write about vampires and necromancers, you probably ought not let them read every scary book they can get their hands on!

Watch for my Days of the Dead online tour beginning October 25!  Book giveaways, free downloads , character interviews, never-before released excerpts, and other cool stuff.  Get more details at

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Paranormally Speaking

By Tina R. McSwain

CAPS (and I) have been very busy and will continue to be for the month of October.

Check out our local appearences and presentations below and come out and meet us!

10/1/2011 – CAPS Core Team Private Investigation in Lincoln County for a Major Media Publication.  We will announce when the publication hits the streets.

10/5/2011 – CAPS Spirit Rescue/Cleansing in Concord, NC

10/6/2011 – CAPS Core Team Private Investigation in Charlotte for FOX Charlotte. Watch Fox News Edge on Saturday – October 29th, and Fox News Rising on Halloween Day!

10/8/2011 – CAPS Founder & Director Will be Speaking to the Mind, Body Spirit Group at Carolina Lakes Sun City

10/13/2011 – CAPS Honored at the Second Harvest Food Bank’s Partner Appreciation Luncheon as Volunteer Group of the Year!

10/14/2011 – CAPS Core Team Private Investigation in Concord, NC for WCNC News Channel 36’s Charlotte Today Show. Watch The Charlotte Today Show at 11am on Halloween Day!!

10/16/2011 – CAPS Founder & Director, Tina R. McSwain, to appear on ParaX Radio Network Show – The Hive at 7pm

10/21/2011 – CAPS Core Team Will Help to Premiere Paranormal Activity 3 at Carolina Cinemas Crownpoint Stadium 12 Theatres beginning at 6PM

10/29/2011 – CAPS Core Team Will be Presenting a Program at the Historic Rosedale Plantation Ghost Walk at 6pm, 8pm, and a special presentation at 10:30pm prior to the Midnight House Tour.

10/29/2011 – CAPS Sponsored Meetup at The Historic Rosedale Plantation Ghost Walk 6pm and 8pm

10/31/2011 – Halloween!  Watch News Channel 36 for a segment on CAPS Investigation of a haunted Charlotte Restaurant

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Death Tells

by Gail Z. Martin

I write about a necromancer (and Halloween is coming up), so I probably think more about death than a lot of people.  And what I’ve noticed is that what an individual believes about death impacts a lot of other areas of life, while how a culture treats death has wide-ranging impacts.

So, for example, my main character Tris is a necromancer.  He can move between the world of the living and the realms of the dead, and he has seen several aspects of the Goddess.  He doesn’t fear death, because he isn’t at all uncertain about what happens afterwards, but because of the people he cares about and his responsibilities in the living world, he would prefer to live as long as possible.  Contrast that with someone who hangs on to life not because they are connected to people but because they fear what might come after death, and you can see where death begins to color a character’s viewpoints on a lot of things.

Does your character have strong viewpoints over who will be punished or rewarded in the afterlife?  If so, odds are that those some views will color who they believe should be favored or shunned in the living world.  Does your character believe admission into the afterlife will require exceptional virtue, bravery, or circumstances (such as death in battle)?  Expect to see those same qualities emphasized in the living world.  Is reincarnation a part of your character’s beliefs?  You may see that color views toward charity, if hardship in the present life is seen as a punishment for misdeeds in a past life.  How about a belief that there is no afterlife at all?  If so, the character and culture will focus on the benefit of actions in the present reality as opposed to “earning” status in the afterlife.

As you do your world building, factor in the life-after-death question.  You may find that your characters—and your culture—come up with some surprising answers!

Watch for my Days of the Dead online tour beginning October 25!  Book giveaways, free downloads , character interviews, never-before released excerpts, and other cool stuff.  Get more details at

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